(So)(Co) Sit Down with Jesse Chase

I'm excited to share this week's (So)(Co) Sit Down with you! Jesse Chase and I met on Halloween during our freshman year of college at Northeastern University. After years of him living everywhere but New York City, one of the best calls that I ever received was "Harp, I'm moving to NYC for an amazing job opportunity." It has been incredible watching Jesse transition into a managerial role at a technology company that is booming by the minute. I'm constantly inspired by his creativity and his dedication to the things that he's truly passionate about.

JOIN ME ON THIS JOURNEY OF SHARING STORIES AND INSPIRING ONE ANOTHER TO BE THE BEST VERSION OF OURSELVES IN OUR EVERYDAY LIVES.

READ ON TO LEARN MORE ABOUT JESSE CHASE.


HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR DAYS?

I am currently the creative director for a technology company that has grown to be the second largest in the world in the ‘cloud hosting’ space. I run and manage a team of ten designers, and am neck deep into creative management. I'm a self-admitted workaholic, and it hasn’t always been this way. Let me explain. 

My entrance into management was a catalyst for change in my life as a whole. Historically, I have spent my days as an individual contributor (IC) - one who professionally designs and is managed by others. But today, I spend my days working with people, refining processes, and offering creative direction. These two roles are entirely different, and the progression from IC to management feels unnatural to most.

Similar to other craft-driven industries, once an IC steps into management, their world changes. Two years ago, I stepped into a managerial role, and I found myself yearning for the work I used to do - the design craft that got me into this field. So naturally, this need created a major void in my life. My natural reaction was to spend my hours outside of work designing and building stuff - getting involved in many side projects and collaborating with other designers. Design managers like myself often lead extremely busy lives due to their need to fulfill their craft outside of work.

WHAT ARE THREE THINGS YOU ARE GRATEFUL FOR?

I am extremely fortunate to have been raised by a very special family of three. My mother, a fashion designer, is warm, loving, and compassionate. My father, a psychologist, is playful, intelligent, and supportive. My sister, a neuropsychologist, is sharp, witty, and an amazing advice giver. These three provide me with a support system that I lean on daily. They have provided me with the majority of the tools that have brought me to where I am today.

Outside of family, I am incredibly grateful for the friends who have helped me along my ride. I'm also grateful for technology, for allowing my dreams to come true, which wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago!

EXPLAIN YOUR LIFESTYLE IN 5 WORDS OR LESS.

Driven, focused, organized chaos. 

IF YOU WERE TO ATTEND A POTLUCK DINNER, WHAT WOULD YOU BRING?

A shoulder of slow cooked pork slathered in sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. Doesn’t get much better than BBQ.

IF YOU COULD GIFT EVERYONE YOU MEET WITH ONE BOOK, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. This book challenges the way we think about life, and inevitably encourages us to evaluate our lives and how we, as individuals have evolved.

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU DO WHEN YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING?

I check my calendar in bed, and am typically overwhelmed at the idea of a jam packed day. I then jump in the shower, where I try my best to put a positive spin on the day and form a strategy. While this doesn’t always result in pure positive energy, it often provides relief. Perhaps this is my version of ‘meditation.'

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING IN YOUR DAILY ROUTINE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR YOU TO MAKE THAT CHANGE?

If I could make a single change, it would be to find a better work-life balance. Like I previously mentioned, I often need to fulfill my desire to design and build, which isn’t realistic at work, given my managerial role. More times than not, desire occupies my evening hours up until bed time. Sometimes this takes me into the wee hours of the night, and I suffer the next day.  This can be unhealthy - life should be balanced between your work and personal lives. I often favor the work side and fail to consider my personal life.

WHAT DOES BEING HEALTHY MEAN TO YOU?

I come from a family who is deeply invested in their health -- eating well, staying active and keeping in shape. My father, 66 years of age can still do 50 pull-ups, 100 push ups, and bike 60 miles in a sitting. They are a constant source of inspiration and pressure to follow in their footsteps.

Health is so much more than going to the gym and eating well. Good health is defined by how we live our lives, the relationships that we have with our friends and family, but most importantly, ourselves. As a 30 year old creative professional, I am just realizing how much more I need to focus on myself - from the food I put in my body, to my exercise, to how I treat others around me. Living a healthy lifestyle is empowering, and it’s something I wish to focus on, now.

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN FACED WITH HEALTH CONCERNS THAT PUSHED YOU TO CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE?

Two summers ago, I suffered from a major foot injury that resulted in having 13 screws surgically implanted in my foot, a summer on my parent’s couch, and constant discomfort given my foot was propped well above my heart. I gave up all physical activity and watched my leg slowly atrophy. This was a VERY difficult time. It forced me to change the way I look at my life in order to cope with nearly 1400 hours of being stationary.  It allowed me to think about the future and form a mental model for how I would like to spend the next few years of my life. Ultimately, it led me to New York to pursue my current career.

WHAT SONG CAN IMMEDIATELY CHANGE YOUR MOOD IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE?

José James and Emily King - Heaven on the Ground

WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE SOMEONE HAS GIVEN YOU THAT SHIFTED YOUR WAY OF THINKING?

“Never stop learning. Embrace what interests you and stay on top of it. Everything you need to know is a never-ending pursuit." - Amy Graver

WHAT ARTICLE OF CLOTHING/OUTFIT DO YOU FEEL MOST EMPOWERED WEARING?

Extremely comfortable light grey pants, canvas sneakers, and a solid t-shirt. 

COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE: "IN ORDER TO BE HAPPY, I NEED TO..."

Push myself beyond my comfort level on a continued basis.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE GOING ON IN YOUR LIFE THAT YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH THE (SO)(CO) COMMUNITY?

I just launched a new project called Libscore. For the first time ever, people can visualize javascript library usage across the entire web. Javascript libraries power much of the web. For instance, the most popular library, jQuery, is used by 690,000 of the top 1,000,000 sites! Data like this has never been available, and we can now see how library adoption changes month over month. As a library author, you can finally see who uses your library!  To many of you readers, this might sound like a bunch of tech jargon, but to developers and authors, this is an extremely powerful tool that provides us with useful insights. See it at libscore.com.


Jesse Chase was born in Philadelphia and raised in South Jersey. After graduating from Northeastern University with degrees in both Finance and Marketing, Jesse decided to move to the Virgin Islands to explore his interest in web design. Upon his return, Jesse worked across various roles in the web design space including freelance, corporate, and agency work. Jesse is currently the Creative Director for DigitalOcean, a cloud hosting company based in New York, where he runs a team of illustrators and product designers. In his free time, Jesse likes to create music, watch movies, bike, think about design, and drink funky, sour beers. 

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